Friday, October 23, 2009

Big East Power Rankings Week 8


1. Cincinnati Bearcats 6-0, (2-0): Last week: WOn at South Florida 34-17 -
Talk about an impressive victory. With their starting quarterback Tony Pike out for the entire second half with a shoulder injury, the offense managed to put up 17 points in the second half and secured a victory on the road. Back-up quarterback Zach Collaros only completed four-of-seven passes, but on a key third and long it was his 75-yard designed run for a touchdown that was the back breaker in the game—an outstanding call to take advantage of the over pursuit of the South Florida blitz. Coaching, advantage Brian Kelly. But what was most impressive about the win was the play of the defense. The big play: on the first play of the second quarter safety Aaron Webster turned the game around with an interception in the red zone that was returned 83 yards to set up a touchdown, at least a ten point swing. Closing Out: In the second half they held the Bulls to three total first downs and forced five three-and-outs. This team seems to have that special element that equates to victories. Some how, some way they get it done. Up Next: vs. Louisville

2. West Virginia 5-1, (1-0): Last week: Win vs. Marshall 24-7 -
It took a second half surge to put away their in-state rival, but don’t get down on the Mountaineers. An early injury to quarterback Jarrett Brown caused the offense to get out rhythm. His replacement, freshman Geno Smith was four-of-eight in the first half but didn’t complete a pass over ten yards until midway through the third quarter. His longest pass was a 33-yard touchdown connection with Alric Arnett late in the third. It was Noel Devine leading the way as usual. Up Next: vs. Connecticut

3. Pittsburgh 6-1, (3-0): Last week: Win at Rutgers 24-17 - Another week, another close call. They handed Rutgers several chances to take this game-fumbles on special teams, missed field goals and costly penalties. But the end result was a win. Most of the credit goes to the front seven on the defense and freshman phenom Dion Lewis. The linebacking play was tremendous, Max Gruder is is a star of tomorrow in the Big East. The defensive line was spectacular again, not giving any room for Rutgers' ball carriers to do a thing (38 yards total rushing). However there is a vulnerable spot on this defense. With cornerback Aaron Berry out for the game with a shoulder injury the secondary was ineffective. Lewis is third in the nation in rushing and was clutch last Friday, which included a 58-yard touchdown run was the biggest play of the game. On the Panther’s final drive that melted the clock it was Lewis gaining chunks of yards on all seven touches he had. There’s a lot of promise for this team, they possess enough talent to take the conference but one has to wonder not if, but when will this sloppy play catches up to them. Up Next: vs. South Florida

4. South Florida Bulls 5-1, (1-1): Last week: Lost vs. Cincinnati 17-34 -
This defense can put the heat on the quarterback but when it counts, they struggle to stop the run. Cornerback Jerome Murphy had a disappointing game committing two personal foul penalties and was beat more than once on key plays. However, the panic button shouldn’t be pressed just yet, but the way this team has collapsed in seasons past, a win at Pittsburgh is badly needed. The key for the next game and for how successful this team can be this season is the play of freshman quarterback B.J Daniels. Up Next: @ Pittsburgh

5.Connecticut 4-2, (1-1): Last week: Win vs. Louisville 38-25 - It was all about airing it out, well at least for UConn's standards. Quarterback Cody Endres threw for a career-high 273 yards and a touchdown. Not to say the reliable running game wasn't there, Andre Dixon rushed for 153 yards and three touchdowns. He’s quietly having a fantastic senior campaign. The story was the defense, perhaps one of the most underrated units in the league. They are an aggressive bunch-forcing four turnovers and some big stops when it mattered most. Up Next: @ West Virginia

6. Rutgers 4-2, (0-2): Last week: Lost vs. Pittsburgh 17-24 -
Bad. That’s basically how Rutgers has played in their two Big East games this year, and if wasn’t for Syracuse and Louisville, the Knights wouldn’t be this high. Luckily a gift turnover that led to a touchdown avoided a near touchdown-less game. Not much positives to take from this game. Up Next: @ Army

7. Louisville 2-4, (0-2): Last week: Lost at Connecticut 25-38 - They have one of the worst defenses of any team in the BCS conferences and have already allowed over 30-plus points four times this season. The Cardinals are likely to be visiting the bottom sometime very soon. Up Next: @ Cincinnati

8. Syracuse 2-4, (0-2): Last week: Bye -
Can’t move a team up after a bye, but a win against the Akron Zips could get them out of the basement for a week. Two weeks ago Greg Paulus was benched for the second half in the team’s loss to West Virginia. It will be interesting to see how he responds and how the fans react; they will get on the former Duke point gaurd if the Orange fall behind early. Up Next: vs. Akron

Photos Courtesy of University of Pittsburgh, Tom Ciszak Rutgers Athletics